I just started my next book and wanted to share the basic premise of it as it would possibly enlightening for you to read and it helps me to absorb the material as well. This lists, in his definition, the 7 mental flaws.

The book is called Winning the Brain Game, by Matthew May.

There is a link here to get if you are interested once I give you the outline of his proven ideas.

He has narrowed down to 7 the amount of ‘flaws’ that we have, as humans, developed over our time alive and here there are.

  • Leaping
  • Fixation
  • Overthinking
  • Satisficing
  • Downgrading
  • NIH(Not invented here)
  • Self censoring

I am going to go through these individually and briefly explain  and then possibly expand one or more of these ‘flaws’ in other posts as I read on through the book.

I am basically only through the first 20 pages of his book where he has given ideas of each’s concept and then expands on, as I will.7mentalflaws

The author also offers a fix for each ‘flaw’…which is obviously a good thing…

Now let us explore each a bit, shall we?

Leaping

You could say that leaping is just that: Leaping to an answer without looking at the facts and therefore not having an idea of how to approach the challenge properly.

Leaping is a knee jerk reaction and you can be assured that this will almost never lead to a secure and proper solution to the challenge at hand.

So the fix is? May calls it framestorming. Which is essentially coming up with questions right away (about the challenge) instead of quick uninformed solutions about the challenge.

This will obviously lead to better informed answers.

Training your mind to frame storm leads to a better mindset when it comes to solving any problem that comes to your reality.reality

Fixation

I talk a lot about this on this site. Paradigms, fixed thinking, beliefs and limiting beliefs…May uses this term but uses his own spin but it is the same.

Psychologists call it ‘functional fixedness’.  Essentially fixation helps us get through our days (as opposed to relearning everything over and over again-riding a bike, opening a door) but is still a handicap when it comes to thinking about new things.

Functional fixedness doesn’t allow us to shift our perception as much as we would need to. We are stuck in the already forged channels of thinking.

But if we are aware of our functional fixedness, then we can do what May calls inversion. Many designers, artists and entrepreneurs uses this to radically transform their thinking…by just looking at the polar opposite of what is in their reality.

Think of the possibilities…

I honestly was awed by this concept and will be forever in my train of thought…

What if???

I am so glad I have an open mind and picked up this book with the mindset of ‘this book will be a game changer’. That concept of inversion alone made this book worth reading.

Moving on…

A term was created by an engineering professor or ‘vuja de’, which is obviously the opposite of ‘deja vu’, meaning having the familiarity that something has happened to them before.

“Vuja de’ would be then experiencing something that you never have before, yes?

So in other words, new thinking is spurred by looking at something a new, opposite way than you have before. And chasing your past way of thinking forever, if only a small amount. It is still different.

Overthinking

Well, this seems kind of obvious but still needs to be recognized. Not sure how else to expound on this except to say that it is very troublesome and very common. One could say that anxiety is rooted very strongly in this flaw as both a cause and a result.

Unfortunately overthinking is way too common but is hardwired into us as humans. That is what we do since the dawn of time when we really started using our heads.

We take a problem and overthink it and overanalyze until we get the problem solved-or not.

The fix? Prototesting.  That’s right, a new word. It is the combination of prototyping and testing. Stop mulling whatever in your head and get it to the drawing board. In other words, stepping into action. Reverse engineer your problem.reverse engineering

Satisficing

Oooh, I just love new words. And this is a good one. Or bad one, depending on your perspective….

To satisfice is to settle. It is a combination of satisfy and suffice and deadly when it comes to humans getting somewhere in life.  We just stick to what is easiest and not work for the best answer.

In other words, not just good, but good enough.

The fix for this? I am still getting my head around May’s answer which is synthesis, but I would have to say that just having the brain to NOT be wanting to settle but to think through the best solution which in the long run pays off is the answer.

Synthesis is by definition a combination of idea to form a theory or system. So by this he uses different but opposable ideas to formulate a solution to the problem.

Probably more on satisficing in another post.  But for now, this is as far as I will go.Synthesis

Downgrading

Being a close cousin to satisficing, you can take a guess at this one. It is essentially going for whatever goal, but then get tired of what you were trying to do and just change your mind on what your goal is to be finished with it.

It’s just too hard!!

It is really a crappy way to go for humans. Once you start that trend, when will you stop? It becomes a habit like all else and blah, blah, blah. You never finish anything.

Can you get a home run by only going to third base? You can’t go to the Super Bowl by only training half the team.

So what is the fix?  How about jumpstarting? Essentially, this is pushing your brain through the stall mode of giving up and accepting  you can’t do any better. Giving yourself more credit than usual, I suppose.jumpstarting

NIH (Not invented here)

This is actually a well known acronym in the management world for a negative perception of anything created by someone other than you or your team.

It leads to reinvention which means plain just extra work.

Have you ever been standing at an elevator waiting for it and have already pressed the Call button and somebody walks up and presses the Call button again although clearly it is already lit up therefore the elevator is called? Same thing.

Well, people started using other’s ideas and inventions anyways. Steve Jobs did when he took the idea for Xerox’s graphic user interface and used it for Apple.

There really is no ‘fix’ for this but a reframing of the flaw. Proctor & Gamble called this PFE or Proudly found elsewhere when they fully admitted that 50% of the innovations they brought out came from outside the organization.

Ideas are still stolen but only by humans are open minded enough to do so. And the PFE strategy is the way they do it. Then the idea is recycled and/or improved before the reintroduction.reinvention

Self-censoring

May and myself both agree that this is the deadliest of all flaws. The rejecting and/or stifling of our own ideas. May even said in his book that:

‘any voluntary shutdown of the imagination is an act of mindlessness, the long term effects which eventually kill off our natural curiosity and creativity.’

Either we are too critical of ourselves or we are just not ready for the change involved with new ideas.  It’s fear that causes the self- censoring.  Fear literally shrinks us. It is a form of ‘mental masochism’, May says.

So what can you do to fix this? It is called self distancing. It is based on a tool brought around by philosopher Adam Smith in which he called the “Impartial Spectator”.  This approach simply helps one to the present moment and to an unbiased perspective.

It is like when we go to a brand new place and how our attention is focused then. Curious and naturally mindful as a guest to a new place.  Totally unattached from our surroundings because we have never been there before.

So you distance yourself by replacing “I” with the third person ‘you’ or your name. You are removing yourself from the idea you created that you are now trying to squash and looking at it from another perspective outside of yourself.

This approach of self distancing can also help reduce anxiety and what ‘choking’ as what is used in the sports world.self censoring

Wrap Up

So that is the 7 flaws of thinking in a general sense. I hope that you gained some knowledge from this. I am thinking that I may be expanding on some or all of them. Still taking it all in myself.

Here is another link here for the book if you would like to check it out.

Let me know what you got from this as I would love to hear your thoughts. Shares would be nice, too.